PRAYING MANTIS / RIGID SOUL - Hard Rock Cafe, Glasgow 09.11.18
PHOTO CREDITS: GAVIN ROSS PHOTOGRAPHY
The Hard Rock Cafe in Glasgow really needs no introduction, being part of a chain of cafes, restaurants and hotels all over the world. Known for its display collection of rock-and-roll memorabilia, the Glasgow HRC has become a regular venue for upcoming bands, tribute acts and the odd more well-known band who pass through as part of a bigger tour.
Tonight we are here to see 80’s NWOBHM band, PRAYING MANTIS supported by local upcoming band RIGID SOUL who were first featured on Down The Front Media back in August 2018.
Describing themselves as a blues-rock band from Scotland, RIGID SOUL are far from confined to just these 2 genres, with their previous live performances impressing many with their no-nonsense approach to gigs and their ability to confidently approach multiple styles of music.
RIGID SOUL take to the stage early in the evening having been introduced as a very good local band by the organiser of Winterstorm who has organised tonight’s show as part of the South beach Sessions series of gigs which normally run in a smaller venue in Troon.
Opening their set with 7/4 the band, led by guitarist and vocalist Kyle Hood, leave you in absolutely no doubt of the calibre of musicians on stage. I could see many a person suddenly paying more attention than normal for a support band, quickly realising the amazing dexterity on display from the 3 young men from The West of Scotland.
Hood’s solo and rhythm work on his Stratocaster is mesmerising, reminding me of a young Richie Blackmore with his long hair falling over his face and shoulders as his fingers effortlessly fly across the fretboard and finding the right chords and notes without hesitation. For one so young, he is way ahead of his time when it comes to ability on the guitar.
The drumming backbone of Rigid Soul is Lewis Ross who, along with Hood, has been the core of the band since its inception. The interaction of Ross with Hood, each watching each other for their respective cues is like poetry, and I am reminded of the on-stage chemistry of Taylor and Mercury of Queen who instinctively fed off each other and kept the pace of the band perfectly. Here we are witnessing the perfect example of 2 musicians knowing what the other is about to do. This only comes from the experience and knowledge of each other’s playing and again belies the young age of both these musicians.
The recent addition on a permanent basis of bass player Liam Brown works well and Brown, who has played on an off with RIGID SOUL for some time in-between other bands, slots into the format perfectly with his solid and unassuming playing style whilst ensuring that his presence does not go unnoticed by those of us in the crowd.
Moving through their own material, my personal favourite ‘Head In The Clouds’ follows with its introductory solo leading to the mature lyrics and vocal style of Hood. A simple love song, but one of insecurity, the song has a blistering guitar solo which seems to have a call and return with the drumming of Ross before returning to its original refrain.
Not afraid to try out new and, as yet, unreleased music, the band treat the crowd to several new pieces which are well received, the stand out being ‘Doing Nothing’ which, ironically, is the opposite of what they are doing - this band are making a stir this evening. It is during one of these unreleased tracks that a fellow photographer leans over to me and tells me that it would be a travesty if no-one picks up on this band as they are unbelievable.
Finishing off their all too short set with a song introduced by Hood as more of a jam for them than anything else, a blistering version of Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ follows and seems to be from a jam. The testament to the ability of these 3 young men has is the number of people from the crowd who approach them after their set, offering to buy them drinks and congratulating them on an outstanding performance.
Their EP, entitled ‘Head in The Clouds’, can be found on all the usual streaming sites.
Rigid Soul are :-
Kyle Hood - Guitars / Vocals
Lewis Ross - Drums
Liam Brown - Bass
PRAYING MANTIS are a well-established band of melodic hard rockers having formed in 1973 and are one of the leading bands in the NWOBHM alongside the likes of Iron Maiden. The connection with Maiden is strong, the band having played alongside Maiden and also playing in various forms with ex-maiden band members Paul Di’Anno, Clive Burr and Dennis Stratton. In fact, Stratton later becoming a band member for some 15 years before departing.
Here in Glasgow tonight as a stop off on their long journey North to Inverness, the crowd know that Praying Mantis will not disappoint before they even set foot on stage, being one of a small number of bands from the NWOBHM era who still record and appear live on a regular basis.
Making their way onto the stage, the band immediately do the right thing and encourage those of us in the crowd who have not made our way to the front of the stage to get up and come forward. This instruction is heeded and the floor soon fills for the set to follow.
Opening their set with their very first single, ‘Captured City’, it proves to be an apt title as the band are clearly aiming to capture the City of Glasgow this evening and it does not take them long to do so.
Lead singer John Cuijpers wastes no time in whipping the crowd up with raised hands summoning us to join in and sing along whilst lead guitarist Tino Troy, with his trademark looks and animated style, also urging us to get involved as the band storm into the self titled ‘Praying Mantis’. The sing-along-ability of the band material comes flooding back to many of us in the crowd and for me, it is a real shame that they never quite reached the heights of some of their competitors at the time as they were surely worthy of far greater things.
Choosing to play only one track from the latest release ‘Gravity’, the track ‘Keeping It Alive’ is well received, the harmonies from the bands' bassist, the guitarist and the drummer Chris Troy, Andy Burgess and Hans In 't Zandt respectively, make this track flow well with the crowd.
It is well worth pointing out that throughout the set the backing vocals and harmonies are outstanding and many a band could learn from the manner that Praying Mantis pull this off. It really makes the tracks stand out and the reason they were up there with Maiden is clear, the twin guitar sound is there, the vocals are there and the stage performance is there.
When you have 5 musicians on a small stage, it is sometimes difficult to find space to move and whilst the small stage confined guitarist Tino Troy to one side of the stage it did not stop him interacting with the audience and interacting as only he can. With guitar raised aloft or pointing outwards to the crowd, he smiled his way through the set, acknowledging the crowd members as often as he could. This was true of the whole band and is also something many a band could learn - the audience are the reason the band are there, take some time and interact with them as this band do in abundance.
By the point of the set where we reached ‘Time Slipping Away’, the crowd are in the palm of the band's hand and, when it is announced that there is only time for one more song, the crowd reach a new height of appreciation of what we are watching.
Needless to say, there is more than one more song with the band joking that they could either leave the stage to their dressing room and then come back on, or just play some more. Electing to just play some more the tracks ‘Turn The tables’ and ‘Children Of The Earth’, they finish the set for the evening.
A consummate performance from a band who have honed their craft over many years is the best way to sum up PRAYING MANTIS - they can still do it.
The friendliness and humour that shone through along with their appreciation of the support act for the evening has endeared PRAYING MANTIS to both old and new fans present tonight. Here is a band who clearly enjoy playing live and, as long as they continue to do so, people will come and see them.
Praying Mantis are:-
Tino Troy - Guitars / Vocals
Chris Troy - Bass / Vocals
Andy Burgess - Guitars / Vocals
John 'Jaycee' Cuijpers - Lead Vocals
Hans In't Zandt - Drums / Vocals
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